Jenn's Book Jems

I read, a lot, sometimes write, and then I share my opinions.

A cutesy little story

On the Fence - Kasie West
  This book was just what I needed. A light, cute, fun read.

Charlie is a tomboy. Growing up in a household with 3 brothers (4 if you include the neighbor boy, Braden) and no mother will do that to you. She loves every sport and plays every sport. There is not a girlie bone in her body. When she's forced to get a job at a local boutique after racking up some speeding tickets, she slowly gets pulled into the world of fashion and make-up and starts discovering her feminine side.

But that's the problem. How can she hide this side from her brothers who will surely ridicule her to no end? Instead, Charlie becomes two people: the "girl" while at work and the "tomboy" at home. But things start bleeding over, especially when Charlie brings home a date. Soon she's forced to decide which part of her is the real "Charlie" and what if it's both?

This was my first read from West and I enjoyed it. Yes, it had romantic elements but the focus was more on family. I loved scenes with her brothers (Gage in particular). They were hilarious and I believed that this family loved each other and would protect each other at any cost. Good thing the dad's a cop, right? And speaking of the dad, I liked how the author showed his struggle on how to raise a teenage girl. This was a family that worked.

But it is a YA romance, so of course there's a boy. Well,actually there's two. There's the one who she met while trying out this "girl" thing, then there's the one she's known since she was a child and who she has conversations in the middle of the night through the backyard fence with. Both were good guys, but one guess who my pick was. Yup, Braden. The boy next door. Her other brother. I adored Braden and was also amused at his jealousy. But aside from being the perfect choice for Charlie, I also loved how he was already part of the family. I could see the friendships between them all.

After reading this I am definitely interested in more from this author. Sometimes we just need these feel-good books.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

 

Promise Me This (Between Breaths #4) by Christina Lee

Promise Me This: Between Breaths - Christina Lee

I’ve found that I go up and down with Christina Lee and this series, but overall, it is a very steady series. Promise Me This is the fourth in the Between Breaths series and the couple in the spotlight here are Nate and Jessie. Nate is a love ‘em and leave ‘em type. He doesn’t do relationships and he’s built quite the reputation, but he doesn’t care. As long as he doesn’t get too attached he can’t hurt anyone and if he never hurts anyone, he’ll never become his father. So when he realizes he has certain feelings for his friend Jessie, he pushes them down as deep as they can go.

Jessie knows Nate’s reputation. They’ve been friends for a while and she’s seen him go through women. It’s never bothered her before, not until she walks in one Nate and another girl. The power she sees in Nate at that moment sparks something inside of her, but it’s something she knows she can never act on.

Lee touches on some serious topics here including abuse. I liked watching Nate as he learned how to separate his desires from his fears. He grew up in a household where women weren’t respected and although he doesn’t share the same beliefs as his father and brother, the dominance that comes out of him in the bedroom frightened him. Jessie was the first girl who didn’t shy away from his control and actually helped him balance out his emotions.

I also really liked Nate and Jessie’s friendship. This wasn’t a book about instalove relationship that most books are fond of. The two here have known each other and already have a baseline of comfort and trust. When their friendship escalates, it’s believable. When they have the thoughts of how a relationship could hurt their friendship, it’s realistic. They both are careful and overthink everything.

What I wasn’t a huge fan of was Nate’s constant “I’m a horrible person” “I’m not worthy” and all of the other ways he put himself down. He spent a majority of the book running from everything on his mind. And honestly, I find it a little hard to believe that a college guy didn’t realize that guys had feelings of dominance in the bedroom and that there are girls who like it. While his fears were real, his naivety wasn’t.

Overall, it was a very easy and quick read. Not my favorite of the series, but not my least favorite either.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This review and more can be see my link text on my blog.

Deep Blue - Jennifer Donnelly

Princess Serafina’s life changes in one day. Her kingdom is attacked and she is forced to flee with only her strange dreams as a guide. Her dreams lead her on a search for five other mermaids – all spread throughout the seas – and together they must save the future of their world. Sounds interesting, right? And look at that cover? Gorgeous!

 

Well…this one was interesting. My initial read through of this book didn’t leave me very excited. It took me almost a month to finish it because I just couldn’t get into it. This being a new world and all, there was quite a bit of info dumping that happened throughout the book and honestly left me feeling weighted down and confused. This being the first in a series, I realize that author was just trying to set up the world and get us as readers to understand the way everything worked. However, this left me feeling a little unattached to the characters and a very unsatisfied feeling upon reaching the end.

 

Then I went to a signing the author was having at a local bookstore. Hearing her talk about the series and the concept and where everything was going actually got me excited for the books to come. Donnelly talked a lot about each mermaid and her part of the sea and I felt like it explained everything a little better and helped me understand the girls – especially Sera who came across to me as extremely immature. So while I didn’t love Deep Blue, I feel like it was just setting up everything to come and the next books won’t be filled with information overload.

Dazed (Connections #2.5) by Kim Karr

Dazed: A Connections Novella - Kim Karr

Aerie Daniels lives her life in a very organized manner, meaning that she has no time for love. She dates, she has sex, but she doesn't feel anything. So when she meets Jagger Kennedy, all of her control goes out of the window. Meanwhile, Jagger is struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life, but he knows the instant he meets Aerie that he wants her.

On the plus side, this novella was better than the two books in the series. On the negative side, I still fail to connect or feel a connection with the characters. The writing is so bogged down with materialistic descriptions, such as an extensive explanation as to what Dahls kitchen looks like (even though we've already read about this house in the actual books). Brand names are thrown around, cars are described impeccably, and music saturates every chapter. It was hard to lose myself in Aerie and Jagger's love when all of these surrounding things kept getting in the way.

I really liked the banter and ease at which Aerie and Jagger communicated with. I honestly did understand them more as a couple in a novella then I did with Rover and Dalh who had two whole books. However, the author still uses sex to solve problems instead of actually talking. And the worst part, the sex scenes read like a manual. He put his hand here. She touched him there. No romance, no passion. For a series titled Connections, I'm still failing to feel any.

I received an e-copy of this novella from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Torn (Connections #2) by Kim Karr

Torn: The Connections Series - Kim Karr

Warning: Contains spoilers from the first book.

Why does the model on the cover have black hair when your MC has blonde??? Ugh, anyway…

Well, we’re slowly getting better. Part 2 of the Connections series picks up right where the first left off, River and Dahlia are about to head to Vegas to get married when Dahlia gets a phone call that changes everything: Ben’s alive. So of course the wedding’s put on hold, emotions are thrown out of whack, everything is drama drama drama, but unlike the first book, there’s at least a reason for the drama.

The book is told from mostly Dahlia’s POV’s, with entries from Ben’s journals. It was an interesting way to introduce the character of Ben. The ending of the first book was a journal entry of Ben’s explaining why he faked his death and here we are told of his journey back into his life through his diary. First off, he keeps a diary – wait sorry, journal? And also, what did Dahlia ever see in him? He’s a grade A asshole. Everything that came out of his mouth just made me want to cringe. His main goal is to get Dahlia back just to get her back. I don’t honestly believe that he loves her, she’s just a possession to him. It’s sick.

River and Dahlia’s relationship is also explored more here. We finally move from just sex to angry sex, make up sex, sex instead of talking, and of course sex for the sake of sex. Dahlia spends the whole time running from any type of serious conversation with River about Ben because she’s scared of what will happen. When she does try to talk to him, it turns into a sex scene. Then when River tries to leave the conversation, she gets pissed that he’s constantly running away. Umm, excuse me? What have you been doing this entire time? Oh yeah, running.

The mystery of how Ben knows River’s family is finally explained (called it in the first book). The music references still drown out the actually scenes they’re in. Dahlia finally makes a decision between the two and life goes on. Slightly better than the first and I’m glad to see the author progressing, but still not one I would recommend.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

A Clash of Kings  - George R.R. Martin

Whew...that was a monster of a book. This one took me awhile longer to get through than the first and I believe it's because of all the war. Most of this book was fighting and there's only so much beheading I can read in one sitting.

However, Martin is amazing in creating characters. The Starks remain ever loyal and honest while everyone around them is anything but. Arya, Robb, Jon, Bran - I adore them each. Also, I can honestly say that I never thought I would hate anyone as much as I hate Joffrey, but I was proven wrong.

And I'm still glad that I watched the show before reading. It's so much easier keeping up when you have faces to put with people. I am, probably like most people, a little scared to see the outcome. I cannot possibly imagine how this series will end. All I know, it will not end happy.

The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: The Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor  - Julie Kagawa

Poor Ethan Chase. All he wanted was to be rid of the Sight and the Fey world, but once again, he finds himself sucked back into the Nevernever, surrounded by those that he hates all in the name of family. At the end of the Lost Prince, we learned about the Forgotten – the fey who time has forgotten and have since started to fade from existence. However, instead of fading, this group of Forgotten have taken to draining Fey of their glamour in order to survive. Ethan and his half-fey/half-human cousin, Keirran, put a stop to this, but at what cost?

In the Iron Traitor, Keirran, is missing. Ethan journeys back into fairyland with Kenzie to look for his cousin. Along the way, he gets help from our good ole friend, Grimalkin (who I absolutely love). Turns out Keirran is on a mission – a mission to save the Summer Fey that he is in love with. Ethan and Kenzie join Keirran on his quest and this is where everything goes wrong.

For those of you who have read Iron Prophecy understand why Keirran and Ethan should have never met in the first place. It is in this book that we finally realize why.

I just adore Kagawa’s writing. This world is so full of life, so unbelievably real that you cannot help but feel the emotions along with Ethan as he struggles with himself and with his family. Kagawa has creted characters that jump off the page at you and refuse to be ignored, and I am glad that we’re still seeing the old favorites from the Iron Fey series. Puck and Ash have one of my favorite bromances of all time and I just squeal with delight when they make appearances in this series. And I have a newfound love for Razor – that damned little gremlin has weaseled his way into my heart.

But I’m not going to lie, I think my heart belongs with Keirran. I know there is something so broken and wrong with him (especially after that ending!!), but I can’t help it. There is something about him that draws me in. But that boy is pure trouble. His mind is so far twisted that I do not know how he can come back from the ending.

And speaking of ending… umm, excuse me, Julie, but what was that?? How can you just leave it there?? Nothing about that is okay. And I don’t wait very well…

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Iron's Prophecy (The Iron Fey 4.5) by Julie Kagawa

Iron's Prophecy (The Iron Fey, #4.5) - Julie Kagawa

All I can say is thank the heavens above for this novella. I was not ready to say goodbye to Meghan, Puck, and Ash yet. This little piece included everything we've come to love from this series: action, journeys, drama, love, and humor. Not to mention that prophecy, of course.

And speaking of prophecies...whoa! Way to drop a bombshell there Kagawa. But it was a brilliant set up for the spin-off series. This was definitely my favorite of the novella's. I loved seeing everyone's reactions to the pregnancy, especially Ash. It was a nice closing to their chapters while leaving it wide open for the next.

Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant

Parasite - Mira Grant

Sometimes humanity is the reason we can’t have nice things.

Imagine a world where there is no more illness. That’s right, no more colds, flus, diseases, even cancer. Now imagine in that same world, people willingly let themselves get implanted with tape worms. Yup, you read that right. Due to science and research, scientists have discovered a way to keep the human race healthy. All that’s needed it a regularly implanted tape worm into your system.

When I sat down to read this with my blog partner, Emily, I had never read any of Mira Grant’s work. I didn’t really know what to expect, but Emily assured me I wouldn’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. In this futuristic world that Grant has created, a company known as SymboGen has developed bio-engineered tapeworms that allow their human host to remain healthy. This seems all fine and dandy until people start acting strange – sleepwalking but violent strange.

Sally Mitchell is one of the many who have received this parasitic worm implant, and thanks to this implant, she survived a life threatening car crash. The only lasting scar is the amnesia which has robbed her of any memories of who she was before the crash. Six years have passed since the accident and Sally has had to relearn everything. She now has a job, a boyfriend, her family, and SymboGen paying for all her medical expenses.

Parasite is mostly told from Sally’s – or Sal, as she likes to be called now- point of view. At the beginning of each chapter/section, we get a little scientific background told through interviews and journals from the three scientists who discovered the worms. But for the most part it’s Sal’s voice that we’re listening to. We follow her confusion as people all around her succumb to this “sleeping sickness” and then we follow her determination to find out what’s really going on with SymboGen and the implants.

Grant’s writing style is very precise and intriguing that I was sucked in, wanting to know more, wanting to know if my predictions were correct. Though the pacing was slow at times, it never really bothered me. It fit the style – how we wait forever for information that’s vital but when it comes we’re like “YES!”. Her characters were clearly defined and so real. Sally, the reluctant heroine who at times was hard to like because she was so empty and damaged, but I felt for her. Her life was stolen, in more ways than one, and she’s just trying to find the truth and survive it. Nathan, Sally’s boyfriend, was a highlight for me. Nathan is one of the few who refused the implant and his devotion and trust is Sally is heartwarming.

The blurb about the book gives away the main plot: the parasites want to live. And while I found a few of the main “oh my gosh” moments to be predictable, I really enjoyed the journey that we were taken on. With all the advancements going on in science today, it’s not hard to envision this world and that’s a pretty scary thought to me. It brought a sort of realism I didn’t expect. I am very excited to see where this story goes in the sequel, especially with the ending this one had.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review can also be seen here on my blog.

Summer's Crossing (Iron Fey #3.5) by Julie Kagawa

Summer's Crossing - Julie Kagawa

A novella told from Puck's point of view? Sign me up!

I really enjoyed this one and possibly because of the change of view. We finally get to see into the minds of the boys - well, at least one of them. Throughout the first three books, Puck is the best friend, the comrade, the sidekick. He makes jokes, he laughs, he pulls pranks...but that's all on the surface. Deep down he's dealing with the fact that the girl he loves is in love with his best friend. A best friend who has taken a sworn oath to kill him.

I'm glad Kagawa let us see this glimpse into Puck. He's one of my fave characters and as much as I love Ash, I don't want Puck to get hurt. And I'm also secretly hoping for a Puck/Ash bromance reunion cause I can see the breadcrumbs leading us there.

Onto book 4!

Winter's Passage (The Iron Fey #1.5) by Julie Kagawa

Winter's Passage - Julie Kagawa

I found this to be a nice little story of Ash and Meghan's journey to the Winter Court. I'm always a fan of more Ash time because he's so interesting. Every scene with him gives tiny little morsals of what lies underneath. The reason I didn't rate this higher was that there was really nothing new added, nothing that we needed to know. It was just a shot of their journey. And one thing that bothered me was Meghan's constant questioning of Ash's behavior. He's told her multiple times that Winter and Summer cannot be together and yet when he reverts to his stony self at the court she's immediately like, why does he hate me? Why doesn't he want me? He's trying to protect you! Sometimes Meghan is just extrememly dense.

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor

 

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Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two.
In the beginning, there was a little book titled Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Said book left me in a state of heightened emotions all the way through to the end. Then there came Days of Blood and Starlight. I'm not sure how I can even put into words what this book did to me, but I shall try.

Days of Blood and Starlight picks up right after the first book ended. Akiva has taken himself back to Eretz looking for Karou. This is truly our first in depth glimpse into this world of angels and so called demons. In the first book, we only viewed Eretz through flashbacks. What remains today of this place is something completely different. War has come, and it's leaving nothing in it's wake.
 
Once upon a time, the sky knew the weight of angel armies on the move, and the wind blew infernal with the fire of their wings.
I spent the majority of the first part of the book pretty much like
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I couldn't stop. I had to know where Karou was, what she was doing, and who she was doing it for. But then bits and pieces began to get revealed. The truth of what happened with Brimstone came out and the ugly face of war came to head.

Now, I feel like I should state that I apparently do not handle the killing of innocents in war well at all. There were many times when I had to literally step away to give myself space to breathe.

We get introduced to many more players this time around: Sveva and her sister Sarazal, Rath, Ziri, Ten, Jael...many I despised but many I grew to love. And a few followed Akiva and Karou into this journey and proved themselves loyal.
 
Once upon a time, a girl lived in a sandcastle, making monsters to send through a hole in the sky.
For some things, there just are no words to describe what I felt as they happened. The last half of the book had me as follows:
 
First this:
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Then this:
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Then:
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And finally, when the book ended: description
 
Once upon a time, chimera descended by the thousands into a cathedral beneath the earth. And never left.

I have no idea what's going to happen next. There were so many twists in this book that I am very anxious to see how they play out. What Laini Taylor has shown is that not all monsters are evil, and not all angels are good. Things are never completely cut and dry. There is no black and white when it comes to this type of war. Who's side do you choose? Do you go with what is easy, or with what is right? I believe that Brimstone put it best when he said "It is life that expands to fill the world. Life is your master or death is."

Book three isn't due until 2014, so...
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Sweet (True Believers #2) by Erin McCarthy

Sweet  - Erin McCarthy

I want to start off by saying that I like Erin McCarthy’s writing. True was my first time reading any of her work and I enjoyed it. I went into Sweet with the same expectations: not to be blown away, but to like it. Well, I did like parts.

What I liked:

Riley: His character was very genuine and real. I understood his actions and why he acted the way he did. This was a man in his twenties who was handed a pretty shitty card in life to begin with, then to have the responsibility of caring for his brothers thrust upon him unexpectedly. He was a smart ass, a hard worker, and a loving brother with a playful side and an ugly jealous streak.

The Brothers Dynamic: I felt this way about the first one as well. The relationship between all four brothers is one of the best things about this series. Their love for each other radiates off of the page and despite their shitty upbringing, they’re all relatively well-adjusted.

Riley/Jessica Relationship: I liked their friendship and how they played around with each other. Towards the end, I enjoyed the sweet little moments that they shared.

What I didn’t like:

Jessica: For almost all of the book, she was extremely self-centered, only concerned about her looks, a whiner who did nothing to change her position just whined, and only thought about sex. Why doesn’t he want to have sex with me? When are we going to have sex with me? Oh, he’s cleaning the kitchen where I want to have sex with him on the table. Aside from how she wanted to help Riley, I found nothing about her I liked.

Duplicate Plot: Aside from a few characteristics of the main characters, the plot was exactly the same as True. While it’s understandable that parts would be similar – this is a series about falling in love – the fact that in both stories the protagonist had parents who threatened to disown them based on their lifestyle and dating choices was a little ridiculous. Both are girls from well off families who fall in love with boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Both have parents who disapprove. Both defy parents. Both get their HEA. Same story, different characters.

Overall, a good story. Had I not read True, I would have probably rated it higher.

This review can also be seen here on my blog.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Negalley in exchange for an honest review.

Someone Else's Fairytale (Someone Else's Fairytale #1) by Emily Mah Tippets

Someone Else's Fairytale (Someone Else's Fairytale #1) - E.M. Tippetts

I was actually debating giving this book 5 stars, but I let it sit (and my excitement simmer down) and I'm giving it 4.5. This book was in no way the best thing ever written, but the feels it gave me while reading make up for it's high rating.

Someone Else's Fairytale begins with Chloe and her friends, Matthew and Lori, heading down to the college campus to become extras on a film being filmed in their area. The film stars current heartthrob, Jason Vanderholt, who is actually from that area. Jason meets Chloe in line, where she is of course completely unfazed by his celebrity status. Over a brief conversation, Chloe finds out that Jason has connections to her family - connections she doesn't want to talk about.

Needless to say, Jason finds Chloe's lack of interest in Hollywood refreshing. A friendship, mostly via Skype, ensues. Meanwhile, while all this is happening, Matthew (Chloe's best guy friend) suddenly starts exhibiting signs of jealousy.

Now here was where I started to get nervous. Chloe didn't have any...and I mean any interest in Jason and with Matthew's sudden interest, I was really confused as to who she would end up with. Jason - who we've come to know (and in my case, love). Or Matthew - who we had hardly seen any of up until now.

My one problem was Chloe's attitude at times. I get that she wants to be independent, and more power to her. In YA, female leads hardly ever actually stand up for themselves or what they believed in. But there were times when I just wanted to be like, ACCEPT THE DAMN GIFTS!

This book explores the concept of friendship before love so fluidly. And Chloe's background story, as dramatic as it seemed tied all together, the way the author weaved it through the story, just made the story that much tighter. Yes, parts were extremely cheesy, but I loved every second of it. And I cannot wait until the sequel!

Undertow (Dragonfly #2) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Undertow (Dragonfly) - Leigh Talbert Moore

*Just a warning, there may be some Dragonfly spoilers in this review.*

So Dragonfly was a sweet surprise for me. I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did and it was a welcome surprise. Because of that feeling, I went into Undertow with slightly high expectations and unfortunately, I was a tad disappointed.

Dragonfly had Anna confused by her feelings for the mysterious Jack Kyser and falling for her longtime friend Julian. The story ended with Anna finding out a huge secret that linked both of her crushes. I was super excited to sit down and find out what happens next. Does Anna tell Jack? Does she tell Julian? Does she tell anyone?

Well…we still don’t know.

Undertow was more like a filler story – one giant back story. At the end of Dragonfly, Bill Kyser gives Anna three journals with the hopes that after reading them, she would keep their secret. So from there, we journey into the land of lost journals.

Journal #1: Meg Weaver.
Journal #2: Alexandra LaSalle
Journal #3: Bill Kyser

Each journal follows the exact same timeline and the exact same events with some variance due to different lives. Let’s start with Meg’s. I almost couldn’t read hers. While I felt bad for her knowing what her fate was, I really could not stand her as a person. She was extremely vain and only cared what people thought of her. She was prestige and money, and manipulated everyone around her to get what she wanted, including her husband – which, I’m sorry, is wrong. Alex’s journal to me was the most realistic and most relatable. And Bill’s was just…weird? It seemed extremely out of character that he would have a journal. This was a man who busted his butt to graduate college early and then started up his business right after. When would he have found time to write in a journal?

Then there was the journal writing itself. They were written just like a book, not journal entries. This style took me completely out of the story and I couldn’t relate properly to them because my head kept shouting, “This is not how people write journals!” At the end of the book, the author has a note stating that she took liberties and wrote the journals as actual stories instead of journal entries. Maybe if that had been stated at the beginning of the book I may feel a little differently, I honestly don’t know.

While this book wasn’t amazing to me, I am still very intrigued on how it’s going to wrap up and am still excited to read the final one. And a series I would recommend for some quick beach reading.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review can also be seen here on my blog.

The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2) - Julie Kagawa Probably 4.5

Review to come